Thor the “miracle kitten”: before and after. Good fosters can truly make the difference between life and death for pets.

We hear about animals caught up in tornados, hurricanes, floods, fires, etc., with national organizations responding. But the fact is, any animal that is injured, sick, hungry and homeless is in crisis. Fortunately, we have people in our community who respond to animals in crisis too. At a recent visit to a vet clinic I ran into Nancy Whisnant, a wildlife rehabilitator, who opened a small box to reveal several tiny bunny rabbits.

Last week I received a call from Gwen Hood with ABLAR and Joy Harklerode with Mercy Fund, asking to borrow a trap for four dogs near a creek, coyotes howling nearby. They stayed for several hours, up into the night, until they trapped the last dog.

In April, Carla Wallace with Partners for Cats got an urgent call about a tiny, almost lifeless kitten with a Hispanic-speaking lady at Animal Control. By the time Carla got there, the kitten was cold, unresponsive and limp. She rushed the baby to a veterinary clinic where, for three long hours, the veterinary staff worked to save the kitten. Heat to warm it up, multiple sub-cutaneous fluids, dextrose injections, and karo syrup did wonders. “Thor” is now eating on his own and growing strong. Carla calls him “my little miracle baby.”

Sometimes it’s 12 or 20 animals in need of help. At the beginning of May I received a call from a landlord who, also an animal lover, allows pets. A lady had moved out and left what was thought to be “maybe four” cats. It turned out to be 21. The mobile home stank so bad that we wondered how people or cats could breathe in there. All these cats are extremely sweet, despite their neglect.

A black kitten we named Twinkle had a bloody bulge where her eye should have been. A grey tiger cat we named Audie came pregnant, but had trouble delivering her kittens and lost them. Another grey tiger had large, deep tumors on her tongue, discovered when under anesthesia to be spayed, and had to be euthanized.

Sometimes neglect is a lack of resources. In the spring of 2015, Gwen Hood received a call about cats living in chicken coops. Because ABLAR rescues dogs and Cats’ Cradle rescues cats, Gwen called me. Together we went to the address given, not knowing what to expect. An elderly man named “Bob” finally came to the door of the rusted out mobile home. He showed us the chicken coops filled with cats of all ages; we found one cat dead. Bob told us he was keeping the cats in chicken coops to protect them from predators, plus a neighbor across the pasture hated cats and had threatened to shoot them. Bob was feeding the cats food scraps from his meals because he couldn’t afford to buy cat food. He released the cats to us when we promised to take good care of them.

Some pets are in crisis because an owner becomes unable to care for them. Lorrie is a divorced lady in her 70s who fell and went into the hospital and then to a rehab center. She had been boarding her beloved cat Sherry for 23 days at a vet clinic at a cost of $20 a day, desperate for help when she called Cats’ Cradle. She cried when we paid the vet bill so that Sherry could be released to Tom, one of our fosters, where she remains at this time. Lorrie hopes to return home and take her cat back.

A few months ago, three kittens were found in a taped-up box at the end of a cul-de-sac, but miraculously were still alive. After being treated for worms, coccidia, and ringworm by Carol, a Cats’ Cradle foster, the kittens recovered and have been adopted.

Pets that end up in a high-kill animal shelter are in crisis too. Area rescue groups are pulling out as many as they possibly can from our county shelter. We all need foster care providers and donations to continue our life-saving work for the animals.

Photos and stories of many of the cats and dogs mentioned in the article can be seen on the Facebook pages of the rescue groups.

Lynda Garibaldi is founder and director of Cats’ Cradle.

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